Reviewed by Gregory Keer
USA Today has heralded Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band as the “Best New Kids” artist of 2011. While it’s a little early for anyone to identify the winning rookie performer of the year, it’s true that this band’s jubilant sound and spot-on lyrics make them stand out in the ever-growing talent pool of kid music.
Last year, Diaz and his bandmates, drummer Theron Derrick and composer-singer Alisha Gaddis, scrambled up the XM Kid’s Place Live charts with the kindie-rock gem “Blue Bear” (you must check out the cut-out art animated video at www.luckydiazmusic.com/media.html.song). On their first full album, the Los Angeles-based group stretches out their blend of roots rock and indie pop on songs that are unabashedly fun and straight-up hip at the same time.
The tone of the entire album is positive without ever being cloying, as evidenced by the song “Smiling,” which sheds light on sometimes scary nursery rhymes. Other tunes play around with travel (“Vacation”), celebrate individualism (“Quite Like You”), and get ‘60s groovy with space-age cats (“Gato Astronauto”). At the heart of Oh Lucky Day! are songs that reference Diaz’s relationship with his daughter, such as the imaginative “Pretty Princess.” The album ends in a lilting ballad called “Dreamland.” Diaz (who often sounds a bit like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie) duets with Holly Conlan on this last piece as they sing of how a parent can smooth a child’s worries before they go to sleep.
While the last song has its calming qualities, sleep is the last thing this recording will have families doing. It’s full of enough superbly crafted music to kick-start the warm and playful months ahead.
www.luckydiazmusic.com – $13.98 (CD) – Ages 2-7